Footsteps coming closer. The ground is soft and moist, but I can hear them – sense them. Soft vibrations dancing through the moist soil. I am startled. The sky is still dark blue, last stars sparkling, the slightest tinge of purple over the houses in the east. It is very early in the day, but my hunting time is almost over. I am a creature of the dark. And this is my hunting area. Over the years, their habitations have crept closer to the woods. There are more of them today, and they take up ever so much more space. In return, the woods have become tamer. Neater, more composed. I don’t like it, in general, I prefer my privacy – my solitude. Food, however, is obtained much more easily these days. Carefully, I creep closer to the path.
There it is, the source of the disturbance - a young woman, jogging. Blond hair, not too tall. She is not very fast, with an expression of concentration on her round face. Humans are funny beings. They have spent so much time inventing means to get from one place to the next faster, easier, with more noise, they even have huge metal birds that fly across the waters... and now they get up earlier than they need to, simply to run around the forest. Alone, sometimes in pairs, seldom more than three at once. They probably think they’re safe.
Coming closer, I realize that she is kind of chubby, in a tasty way. Her legs are enclosed in light blue sweat pants, the T-shirt is purple and green, with little black designs on it. She is very visible against the dark tree trunks. With some humans, you get the idea they are trying to hide. She is clearly not one of them. Her shoes are reflecting what little light finds its way down to the damp ground. How very careless of her, as if she had no natural enemies. They are not prepared to die, nor do they expect their lives to end suddenly. Even their warriors fight without fear because they know they will never have to face death - it will grab them by surprise, and everyathing will be over in seconds. Thinking of torture, the idea of some noble ceremony to make them pass from one shore to the next as true fighters fills them with terror.
It would be so easy to tackle her, take her to the ground, end it. Take her essence – to be honest, I am not a great meat eater. Her lifeless body might be found only a few hours later if left on the path, but it might be easily possible to drag her into the dark – just a few steps away from the path, and she will be invisible to her fellow humans, out of reach. How very odd. They won’t find her until her body is smelly and ripe in the hot summer air. Months will go by in which she will have disappeared as if by magic. They have so very, very limited perception.
The woman passes only a claw’s width from me. Her face is red, she is breathing heavily. No need to run for your life these days, I suppose. At least she is making an effort. Her breath ruffles the black fur on my shoulders as she passes the very tree I am hiding behind, and the urge grows. It would be so easy, and she is so – juicy. I can almost taste her, and she doesn’t have a clue. In the early morning forest, dark and cold and silent, she is like a blaze.
In her ears, there are these tiny plugs so many humans are fond of wearing. Music blasts from them directly into their brains, messing with their senses. This may be why she doesn’t realize the odd silence. Usually, there should be birds singing, doesn’t she know? The birds are gone. All animals have fled, they recognize me, they know how to stay alive. Humans don’t, they’re blind to the things that really matter.
The heat coming from her body remains a moment after she has passed, and I feel her steps vibrating up my spine as her legs carry her away from me. This short distance has already exhausted her, it seems. If anything, anyone came up to her, she would be too pumped to defend herself. I know that it’s not only us hunting them out here – strange enough, some of them are hunting as well. The things they do to each other are worse than everything I might come up with for her. After all, to me she would only be food. A nice bite, but food nevertheless. To them she would be… I am not quite sure.
Is she done already? At the next bend, she turns around, slower now, and jogs into my direction again. Her bouncy ponytail has become untangled, small strands interfering with her vision. She tries to blow them out of her face, unsuccessfully. Her hand comes up – it looks as if she chews her fingernails regularly – and wipes them away. She misses a step, stumbles and catches herself. Once more, I feel her warmth sweeping over my body. The soil’s vibrating becomes weaker as she runs away from me, towards the houses. The sun is barely visible over the roofs. The stars have disappeared. I sigh and retreat into the woods.
I spare her. This time.